le studio architects has designed ‘hien pavilion’, an information and pastoral center for parishioners and visitors to the st. joseph cathedral in hanoi, vietnam. the design draws from the symbolic character of the location to establish a system of dichotomous pairs, sparking a conversation between old and new, within a spiritual, religious context. the structure’s main functionalities include a reception area, a bookstore, and a gift shop.
all images courtesy of hoang le
le studio architects decided to amplify the dual character of classical catholicism in this otherwise purely functional project, while refusing to repeat its inherent symbols. the result is a system of opposing, dichotomous pairs: high-low, big-small, solid-hollow, main-supplementary, yin-yang, complete-incomplete, fixed-fluid, heavy-light, visible-hidden, materialistic-ethereal. in this way, the design forms special bonds between the new structure and the existing architectural ensemble in the vicinity.
this opposing system is materialized by conventional architecture solutions, mainly glass and steel, with the existing vegetation mostly retained, interwoven in the new structure. by weaving the existing vegetation into a long canopy, the design generates a generous shaded area that minimizes the physical appearance of the new structure. in this way, the pavilion highlights the original cathedral, rather than trying to upstage it.
the connection between the pavilion and its surroundings is easy to identify, but the actual architecture vernacular itself is not as clear-cut, presenting the asian view of ‘harmonious yin and yang’ (congruous duality). the ‘yin’ elements of the structure contain a glimpse of the ‘yang’, carefully calibrated through the building’s outer shell, and at the same time, acting as a solution to the conflicting objectives of minimizing the domination of the volume, while satisfying service space requirements.
name: hien pavilion
architects: le studio architects (LSA)
lead architect: le minh hoang
design team: le minh hoang, pham van dung
other collaborators: tran anh duc
location: hanoi, vietnam
area: 235 sqm (2529 sqft)
edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom